The Soundtrack of My Life – 10 – Cosmic Love

Today is going to be a gauntlet. I am now two weeks behind and I don’t want to give up on my goal. So, I shall attempt at writing the last two weeks and get a jump on the third. Let’s see if I can actually do it without losing my ambition. (Spoiler alert: I probably will.)

It finally happened, I came across a soundtrack that does not exist in Spotify. I was going to choose the musical score from “The Horse Whisperer” by Thomas Newman, but all they had available were these cheap covers (of a single song) that sounded as though someone had composed them from a computer program. They lacked the enchantment that comes with the live recording. So… that plan has been scrapped. Instead I chose “Cosmic Love” by Florence + the Machine.

I first heard this beauty in a TV spot for the film “Like Water for Elephants.” I was immediately captivated by it. And, good song choice by the one who edited the trailer, because it drew me to watch the movie. However that was the only good thing about the film.

I don’t know what it is about a song with a heavy percussion, but it just fills me with this intense joy. In this particular ballad it’s amazing because the lyrics tell of a star-crossed love, and the drums are reminiscent of a heart racing from the very thought. It also gives this mythic/fairy-tale/other-worldly vibe that I felt ironically captured the essence of my novel.

I don’t know if other writers do this, but I have a “soundtrack” of songs that fit into the frame/theme of my novel. The story told in “Cosmic Love” accompanies my narrative in this coincidental symmetry.

I wrote my first novel length work of fiction in 2009 during my first ever NaNoWriMo. Since then I have attempted to edit the fuck out of it. Every now and then I get a second wind and start the process all over. I get about halfway through and start to believe the inner voice that “I am shit at writing” and then I stop. And the number of times this has happened with this particular work in progress is uncountable.

The thought of giving up has crossed my mind many times, but I just love the story. I have it plotted out for a series of four books. The second has already been written, but I haven’t even touched that one since I began editing the first. I wanted to polish this bad boy up to a glimmering shine before I dove into it’s sequel. Which is good, because since I completed the second book the tone and overall narrative of the story has changed. For the better, I hope.

During one of my bouts of renewed vigor for editing, I got this wild itch to drive from the Central Valley of California to Salt Lake City. No idea why. The urge struck and I answered the call. My little polycule piled into the car and we drove straight through.

With this captive audience I had the boys listen to my story.

What I learned is that I am very proud of my tale. I also discovered that because of my constant restarting my front half is very well completed but the back half is lacking the glimmer of the first. Overall the story is tight and I need to stop being such a bitch about it. At this point I have to write out two full chapters and continue threads I started in the first half.

The other event that occurred during our Literary Adventure was my husband bestowing a compliment upon me. One I will never forget. He told me I was a good writer. Now… he either said this because he’s dying and he has nothing left to lose, or he said it because it is how he genuinely feels. Knowing my husband… he doesn’t dole out positive feedback unless he genuinely believes it. Hearing that made me sublimely happy.

However… What fuel I received from that trip was wasted. Life once again became overwhelming and I lost my passion. It’s much of what happened with this year long endeavor. Everything just becomes a little too much at times. Even if it is a small inconvenience. Trying to accomplish a task that isn’t absolutely necessary falls to the wayside.

Into the Unknown

I can feel it in my chest. It is this deep, assuring sensation that it is time to peddle my novel. The world is calling me for it, and I know I must answer.

On December 9th, 2021 it will be 12 years since I finished my first NaNoWriMo and completed my first ever novel length work of fiction. If you have done NaNoWriMo before you will note that it is 9 days after the completion of the month long contest, to write 1,667 words a day for the entire month of November. And you are correct, but these were 9 extra days it took to actually wrap up the narrative. And I have spent the time since then editing this bitch.

Part of that is due to my need for perfection and my inability to see my talent and skill. I truly, truly am my worst critic. It’s weird how no one wants to see me fail more so than myself. I’m hellbent on it. And I have wasted these past years himming-and-hawing about whether it was good enough. Well, after a long car ride, and captive audience, I realized it is.

I don’t remember if I wrote about me and the polycule’s impromptu trip to Salt Lake City… Regardless, during this time I tasked the BF to read aloud my story for myself, the husband, and the brother-husband. May I make a suggestion that any writer should ABSOLUTELY do this. It accomplished two things. One, I got a test audience for feedback and overall commentary about the story; in real-time no less. Two, I got to get outside of my own head to hear how it sounded. The second one was the best thing I could have experienced. For so long I have sat there, nitpicking prose, punctuation, plot, that I get so lost in the logistics that I forget about the whole purpose of writing a story: to be entertained. I found myself smiling and laughing at my own words. That is insane. Either it’s good or I am just a narcissist who enjoys his ability. (Probably a combination of the two.)

Well, a road has been placed before me in the terms of an unpublished manuscript competition. For an entry fee of $65 I can submit my first few pages and a brief synopsis of my novel for consideration. If it’s chosen it’ll be placed in front of people who could potentially jumpstart my career. Now, will I place? If my past writing competitions have shown me anything, it is a firm NO. Will I find an agent or even sell it? Again, most likely no. Should I still do it? Yes.

One of the things that has been repeated to me frequently is that we will regret all opportunities not taken. So, I need to do this.

The “Shut the Hell Up” Two-Step

It’s truly astounding how much I want to see myself fail. Whenever I gather up my will to accomplish something and make even just the tiny bit of headway in regards to my novel, my inner critic pipes in and likes to remind me how “shit” I am at writing. It happens without fail. Every time.

In the past I would inevitably listen and give up. The proof is in the fact that the last time I attempted to edit my book was 5/28/2014 (28/05/2014 for those abroad). At the very least that was the last time I opened the word documents. What’s even more excruciating is that I completed this novel length work of fiction in 2009. This December the 6th will be 10 years. That’s insane. But the delay has all been due to my submission to my self-hatred.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to be relatively confident in my ability. It wasn’t until I went to work for an office that treated me like I was a fucking moron that I started to cave so easily. “What’s the point?” Became my mantra. When those around you talk down to you, in the voice of your inner critic, you start to listen.

As of late, it usually gets the loudest after my initial read through of a chapter in “rough” condition. But I tell myself to ignore it and just keep reading. I start at the top and work my way down, and when I come across something that gives me pause I fix it immediately. The voice will chime in and I “talk over it” to myself “You can do this.” Even if I am mid-paragraph, that doesn’t need any real change, and he decides to tell me how horrible my writing is I restart at the beginning. It’s almost like learning a dance routine. If I miss a step, back to the top.

This time I absolutely refuse to give up or give in. Whenever the fucker pokes his head into my thoughts I knock him square across the jaw and then kick his dazed ass to the curb. In the words of Ms. Bianca Del Rio “Not today, Satan.”

#WriterProblems

I am almost certain I have come to this fork in the road once before, when I attempted to edit my novel in the past. Evidently though I chose not to do anything about it and keep it the way it was, for whatever reason. Maybe I thought, “Well I’ll just fix it after I revise the whole thing.” Which is downright ridiculous because the changes required ripple through the rest of the story. Jesus, I really hate myself sometimes. Past Josh was an idiot, to be quite frank.

Here is my dilemma, my novel takes place in the mountains northeast of Boise, Idaho on New Year’s Eve and there is absolutely no snow.  The things that occur very much show no snow and adding it would make things difficult for both me and my protagonists.

When I was editing my Chapter 9 (‘yay’ for making headway) the question that came to mind is, “Wait, could this actually happen?” In this chapter I describe a broad green valley cut in two by a stream. Green… In January… In the mountains. Naw, girl. That doesn’t sound possible. So I did a quick google search and discovered that snow covered 99.5% of the landscape. So, you’re telling me that there is chance of snow. Then that information made me wonder if there would even be a stream.

Luckily I have a buddy who moved from my hometown to a town in Idaho. So I started asking him these very questions. And that kicked me back to the beginning.

When I originally wrote this book I did not have this particular plot point about an alcoholic father and it being New Year’s Eve.  I added that AFTER the fact to answer another couple questions that arose that needed clarification. However, because of them, this has created quite the conundrum.

How do I solve this issue? Do I go back and add in the snow and change the action to handle the new dilemma OOOOR do I just move the date of the story to a spring month? My one hang up is that it would seem too forced for the alcoholic father to have a HUGE change of heart in regards to his substance abuse. With the “New year, new you” mentality it fits better, in my mind.

The other option I had was maybe move it up to May, and make it a birthday thing. Like “Now that I’m 40…” And it could work but AGAIN another plot point comes under attack in the forms of a character that HAS TO put on a jacket. (That is 100% non-negotiable.) Is she still going to ask for a jacket?

Oh, writer problems.

My husband is such a dick. He’s making fun of me by saying that I’m going to be eighty years old still working on this book. “I just need to add one more thing.”

Anyway, I’m probably just going to go back and put a winter layover. I just don’t want to do it.